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Ovarian Cancer Breakthrough

Ovarian cancer. It's called the silent killer, and less than half of women diagnosed with it will live five years. But now, a special kind of chemotherapy lets them live longer.

Grandmother Mable Parr should be a natural at driving a videogame racecar. For 21 years, she drove a school bus and a tractor. But last July, she hit a life-changing bump. "Every time I hit a rut, I had pain. So, I went to the doctor, and I had a CTscan, and it was ovarian cancer," she says.

Parr had surgery to remove the tumor and is now getting a special kind of chemotherapy. Along with standard chemo given through an IV, she has chemo delivered directly into her abdominal cavity through a catheter. New research shows women live about 16 months longer with it.

"We might see these women actually living through what we would consider a cancer that, that otherwise might have taken their lives," says Kristine Zanotti, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

The method allows doctors to give 20-times to 1,000-times the dose of chemo because fewer healthy cells are harmed. "With that comes an enhanced killing effect, an enhanced effectiveness," Dr. Zanotti tells Ivanhoe.

Parr is one of the lucky ones. She's cancer-free and feeling better each day. "I've had more time off from work than I have in 25 years, and I'm getting cabin fever," she says. "I want to go back to work." After all, driving a bus is a little more up her alley.

A side effect unique to this type of chemo is abdominal discomfort and infections from the catheter. But Dr. Zanotti says doctors are working to improve catheters and improve the delivery. The treatment is available at most major medical centers in the country.

Categories: Health & Wellness, Women's Health,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: Ovarian Cancer: Not So Silent?, Medical Advances Likely to Reduce Threat of Cervical Cancer: Your Health,

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